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Sharia Watch 1 [04 Jun 2002]

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  • shariawatch
    SHARIA WATCH 1 : a collection of recent news articles on Sharia, for research purposes only.[*] [dd. 04 Jun 2002], posted weekly to
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 10, 2002
      SHARIA WATCH 1 : a collection of recent news articles on Sharia,
      for research purposes only.[*] [dd. 04 Jun 2002],
      posted weekly to

      Germany (2) - United Kingdom (2) - Turkey (1) - Lybia (1) - Egypt (1)
      - Jordan (2) - Nigeria (15) - Bahrein (2) - Dubai (5) - Saudi Arabia
      (5) - Iran (3) - Georgia (1) - Russia (1) - Uzbekistan/Tajikistan/
      Kyrgyzstan/Kazakhstan (1) - Kashmir (1) - Pakistan (5) - Afghanistan
      (1) - Malaysia (1).

      " According to the procedural law of Islam, the sole
      responsibility for proving the offence of fornication and adultery
      lies with the person who makes the accusation. " [In search of
      justice]. [Nigeria :] An Islamic court today freed a young mother
      facing death by stoning to allow her to care for her child, raising
      hopes she would be cleared on appeal. Amina Lawal, 30, will be allowed
      to return home to her village and stay there until January 2004
      whatever the result of her appeal, the court ruled, fixing its next
      hearing for July 8 2002.

      GERMANY (2)

      Security Agency Warns That Terrorist Threat Remains High

      The interior minister also said that in addition to the
      Islamic extremist groups listed in the report, Turkey's Milli Gorus
      organization is causing concern among German authorities. Milli Gorus
      is the largest Muslim organization in Germany, with about 27,500
      members. Schily said the group aims to spread its religious-based
      political views throughout Europe.

      Guenther Beckstein, interior minister of the German state of Bavaria,
      told reporters in Munich he is also concerned about Milli Gorus.
      Beckstein said the group should be banned because it wants to impose
      Islamic Sharia law on Muslims living in Germany.

      The comments in Germany followed a series of warnings in the United
      States last week that new Al-Qaeda attacks could be expected. U.S.
      Vice President Dick Cheney said the probability of a new attack was
      "very, very concrete." However he added that the information gathered
      by U.S. intelligence agencies was not clear as to where or when the
      attacks might take place. Similar warnings came from the FBI and other
      U.S. security groups.

      Talibankers keep abreast of options

      Visiting the Frankfurt headquarters of Commerzbank could be a
      risky business these days.

      Once you have got past all the pleading German businessmen trying to
      excuse their bad debts, you might bump into a small bearded fellow
      called Tahmaseb Mazaheri, the finance minister of Iran. He is the
      bank's latest customer.

      Commerzbank is helping him evade the strictures of sharia law (which
      forbids usury) and all that unhelpful talk of an Axis of Evil from
      President George W Bush by arranging a potential £300m loan in the
      eurobond markets.

      Nobody can accuse Commerzbank of being sniffy about its customers.
      Apart from the Holy Islamic Republic, it has lined up other upmarket
      clients. It is, for instance, one of the biggest lenders to the
      pornography industry.

      Its customers include Beate Uhse, the world's largest manufacturer of
      sex aids, Private Media of Barcelona and, of course, cuddly Richard
      Desmond, publisher of Big Ones and Asian Babes and generous donor to
      the Labour Party. Commerzbank arranged a £90m loan for him to buy
      forgotten newspaper group.


      Fundamentalist named by FBI recruited in UK

      Last night Omar Bakri said that he and Mr Soubra were friends
      who had first met four years ago. "This man has been an active member
      of our movement," he said. "He came to the UK from the Lebanon. He
      approached me after I gave a talk in Luton and I subsequently
      sponsored his studies at the London School of Sharia. He said he
      wanted to know about Islam.

      "He stayed in Britain for two years before going back to Beirut. The
      next time I heard from him he was on an aircraft engineering course in
      Phoenix. He was still committed to our group and set up a branch for
      us. Until two weeks ago I was in regular contact with him. Now we have

      While at the London School of Sharia, Mr Soubra lived in Shadwell,
      east London, and attended the East London Mosque.

      In the memo, Mr Williams said that he was conducting an investigation
      into the Islamic Army of the Caucasus and "Osama bin Laden and
      Al-Muhajiroun supporters attending civil aviation universities and
      colleges in Arizona".

      Mr Soubra, the memo said, was a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical
      University in Prescott, Arizona. He has been interviewed at least
      twice by the FBI. The first time was in April 2000, when investigators
      said that they were concerned that he had visited a shooting range
      with another Muslim, a veteran of Islamic jihads in the Balkans and
      Middle East.

      Within hours of the September 11 attacks, agents questioned Mr Soubra
      and fellow students at Embry Riddle again. He was not charged with any
      crimes. Mr Soubra's whereabouts are not known, although he is not
      under arrest.

      Koran's attitude to homosexuality is no worse than the Bible's

      Nick Allen (letter, 9 May) is right to suggest that the Koran's
      attitude to homosexuality is no worse than the Bible's. However, the
      reality is that gay activists have every reason to "pick on Islam".

      While it is the Christian right that spreads Biblically-inspired hate-
      speech, virtually every mainstream Islamic school of thought and
      jurisprudence considers gay acts deviant and unlawful; and it is
      Sharia law that puts the hate into practice in all nine countries
      where homosexual acts are subject to the death penalty, and in the
      three where homosexuals are known to have been executed in the past 12
      years. The Muslim gay rights group Al-Fatiha estimates that 4,000
      homosexuals have been executed in post- revolutionary Iran.

      Although not illegal in Egypt, five homosexuals were recently found
      guilty of "sexual practices contrary to Islam"and jailed for three
      years. One London-based Islamist organisation has condemned Egypt for
      failing to deliver the death penalty. A senior cleric at a London
      mosque has advocated the execution of gay males over the age of ten
      and life imprisonment for lesbians; another has indicated that
      homosexuals must be taken to the highest mountain and thrown off.

      Gay people - and gay Muslims most of all - have plenty of reason to be

      TURKEY (1)

      Turkish Fataws Say Hijab is One of Women's Rights

      In what the media considered an attempt to revive
      fundamentalism in Turkey while others see it as an activation to the
      Islamic interpretative judgment activities (Ijtihad), frozen for 700
      years, the religious consultative council in Turkey Saturday, May18 ,
      declared 39 religious decrees, Fatwas.

      As Islamic interpretative judgment activities (Ijtihad) had been
      frozen for 700 years, the Islamic council met to settle certain issues
      facing Islam in Turkey in modern times.

      The council, in a session headed by Mohamed Fawzi Yalmaz and attended
      by 100 religious scholars, released a final official statement
      concerning different controversial issues in the Turkish society and

      These fatwas include the refusal of the council to allow the calling
      for prayer (Azan), to be in Turkish instead of Arabic, considering
      wearing scarves, Hijab a religious matter and one of the personal
      rights and freedoms of women, and joining daily prayers to be 3 times
      a day instead of 5 .

      The meeting, which was held to discuss religious issues for the first
      time, focused on four main topics: correct understanding of religious
      scripts, issues related to women, pilgrimage and other rituals, in
      addition to opinions and controversial fatwas that affect the society.

      One of the fatwas included in the final statement emphasized the
      equality between men and women, as it states that equality between
      both sexes should be implemented in education and work opportunities,
      in addition to the must of removing all obstacles disabling women to
      enjoy such equality.

      Using Turkish language in prayers was also among the issues the
      council allowed, as it said there was no harm done to rituals when
      done with the mother language of a person (in case he/she doesn't
      Arabic with a special stress on the necessity of learning Arabic

      Reducing the prayers to 3 was refused by the council. I don't know
      where such idea came from, prayers in Islam are five, said Yalmaz.

      The council said it is acceptable in Islamic rulings joining two
      prayers under certain circumstances, such as traveling or other agreed
      upon excuses. The Noon (Zuhr) and Afternoon (`Asr) prayers can be
      joined, as well as the Sunset (Magrib) and Evening (`Isha)

      Nevertheless, Hussein Khatami, a law professor, said it is not
      permitted to join Dawn and Noon prayers, as joining prayer is confined
      to certain cases in a very special way stated in Shariah (Islamic

      Hareet daily newspaper said these fatwas can be considered a
      revolution in women lives.

      These fatwas marked the beginning of a new era of enlightenment in
      Turkey, said Saleh Ak Demir, university professor.

      LYBIA (1)

      4 Libyans sentenced to 10 years in prison and amputations for robbing

      Four Libyans convicted of armed robbery received 10 year
      prison sentences Thursday and will have their right hands and left
      legs amputated, Libya's state-run news agency, JANA, reported.

      A court found the four guilty of robbing a Chinese oil exploration
      company on April 30. They were arrested within 48 hours of the crime,
      JANA reported.

      The four men, whose names were not released, attacked the company's
      headquarters during the night, stole an unspecified amount of money
      and drove away. It was unclear where the company was located.

      Police and security forces chased the culprits and arrested one.
      During questioning, police learned the identities of the other three
      and arrested them the same day, national Libyan television reported

      Libya approved hand and leg amputations, permissible under Sharia, or
      Islamic law, for stealing two years ago.

      EGYPT (1)

      A Fatwa on Piracy

      In February, the Business Software Alliance, the group that
      represents Microsoft, Adobe, and other software makers concerned about
      piracy, signed up another unusual partner -- the grand muftis at Al
      Azhar in Cairo. The highest religious authority in Sunni Islam, Sheikh
      Ibrahim Atta Allah, issued a fatwa, or edict, against piracy. "Piracy
      is the worst type of theft and is prohibited by Islam," Atta Allah

      Not all piracy measures call on higher powers. After nearly a decade
      of U.S. persuasion and $7 million in technical IP assistance, a new IP
      law is under debate in the Egypt parliament. The law's authors hope
      that it will pass before the People's Assembly begins its summer
      recess on June 30.

      JORDAN (2)

      Awqaf minister says premarital testing poses no contradiction to
      Islamic Sharia http://www.jordantimes.com/Tue/homenews/homenews7.htm

      Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Ahmad Hilayel said on
      Monday that a recent proposal adopted by an Upper House committee to
      make medical premarital tests obligatory in the Kingdom did not
      contradict Islamic Sharia.

      The Senate's Health, Environment and Social Development
      Committee recommended on Sunday that legislation be drafted making
      premarital blood tests mandatory in order to avoid genetic diseases,
      mainly thalassemia.

      The committee has reached a conclusion that there is an urgent need to
      draft legislation which obliges couples to undergo a blood test before
      marriage to determine if they have thalassemia or not," the
      committee's rapporteur, former Health Minister Senator Aref Batayneh,

      Palestinian suicide attacks were an inefficient weapon against Israeli

      Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Moasher said in an interview
      Monday that Palestinian suicide attacks were an inefficient weapon
      against Israeli occupation, adding that an Arab peace plan was a
      better tool. "These operations have lost all international support for
      the Arabs, who are the only countries in the world to support them,"
      Moasher told the Jordanian independent weekly Al-Hadath.

      "We must be clear: our goal is the end of the occupation, not
      (anti-Israeli) resistance or even the intifada," he said of the
      Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule launched in September 2000.
      "The question that must now be raised is whether these (suicide)
      operations have served the Palestinian cause rather than if these
      operations were justified or conform with Sharia (Islamic law),"
      Moasher said.

      Moasher also accused Israel of having exploited the September 11
      terror attacks on the United States "to tell the world that it was
      fighting terrorism like the United States". "At the same time we
      (Arabs) kept silent and the result was that many countries consider
      that we were wrong and that (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon was
      right," in trying to eradicate suicide bombings, Moasher said.

      NIGERIA (15)

      Niger-Delta Breeds Bread And Butter Politicians

      Why did Obasanjo not drag the issue of sharia to the court? In
      fact, the present Attorney-General has even declared sharia illegal.
      But President Obasanjo will not do that because he is afraid of
      Northerners because, they will throw him out of Aso Rock the day he
      attempts it. They told him that the day he insults their religion, he
      will regret ever thinking of becoming Nigeria's two-times ruler. The
      Niger/Delta is supposed to be the deciding factor in this country but,
      unfortunately, we breed bread and butter political class. So, we are
      not respected by other regions and this make my heart bleed. So, the
      issue of resources control is bigger than Obasanjo and this
      The fundamentalist Taleban, ousted from power in December following a
      U.S. air offensive, imposed only a strict interpretation of Islamic
      Sharia Law. Criminals were as often executed, stoned or buried under a
      bulldozed wall as they were jailed.

      It is unclear to what extent Islamic law will now apply.

      Since the appointment of the UN-backed interim government of Hamid
      Karzai, accused criminals have simply been thrown into prisons which
      are critically overcrowded.

      Stinking of urine, crammed with up to 50 inmates per cell and so
      filthy that it makes your scalp crawl, Kabul's main detention center
      was never meant to hold convicted criminals, only the accused.

      "Most of the cases that we have studied so far are crimes caused by
      poverty," Big told Reuters. "Most of the people are jobless and those
      who have a job earn very little." The bulk of the prisoners are
      thieves or pickpockets. Some have been arrested for drinking alcohol
      or smoking hashish. Most of the women detained in a separate block are
      accused of "moral crimes" -- basically meaning adultery.

      The commission checks every prisoner on its list against the decree's

      Sharia is anti-democratic - Daily Champion (Lagos) - June 2, 2002

      Some States adopted other means of governing themselves
      setting aside the federal constitution thereby making nonsense of your
      acclaimed Presidency. Human rights are seriously abused all in the
      name of Sharia; many are physically maltreated, amputated etc we even
      have people on death row, for having voluntary sex in a democratic

      Some states have their own law enforcement agencies carrying out
      jungle justice in the full glare of the public. An example that comes
      to mind is that of a robbery suspect called Derico. Despite the
      insistence of the Inspector General of Police that he be brought to
      Abuja and given a fair trial in the court of law, he was killed in
      cold blood by a vigilante group called Bakassi in Onitsha main market.

      Under what constitution are they operating? The Nigerian constitution?
      I hope not.

      Sokoto State Governor May Face Anti-Graft Panel - May 31, 2002

      The PDP chairman alleged that the government did not only
      inflate the cost of the plane, but also bought it against the "wishes
      of majority of the people of the state, who had earlier told him they
      did not need an aircraft". Alleging that Governor Bafarawa has since
      three years been squandering the resources of the people, he insisted
      that "the plane is just for the governor's leisure and pleasure and to
      the detriment of the suffering masses in Sokoto State".
      He lamented what he saw as misuse of power and religion by the
      governor, alleging that "Sharia is being used in the state to oppress
      opponents". He, however, reiterated the resolve of the opposition to
      seek redress and report formally to the Anti-Graft Commission.

      Spread of Sharia law does not threaten Nigeria, says President

      Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria's President, has said he does not
      see the adoption of Sharia law by a dozen states in Nigeria as a
      threat, amid international pressure on him to amend laws calling for
      execution by stoning for Islamic crimes such as adultery.

      Now with more harsh Sharia punishments pending, including stoning,
      whipping, amputation and execution, and the prospect of Sharia being
      extended to at least one state in the predominantly Christian south,
      the issue might tear the country apart.

      "To say Sharia must be removed from Islam is like saying that the 10
      commandments must be removed from Christianity," President Obasanjo, a
      devout Christian, told The Independent. "Sharia is not a new thing and
      it's not a thing to be afraid of. What we need is justice."

      Sharia law had been the experience in parts of the country "since time
      immemorial", he said, adding that the federal government would not
      dispute the rights of states to use it.

      On 25 March, an Islamic appeal court dismissed Safiya Husaini's
      sentence of stoning to death for adultery on technical grounds, after
      it provoked global outrage.

      But last month Amina Lawal, 30, became the second woman to be
      sentenced to death for adultery when an Islamic court in northern
      Katsina convicted her. The mother of three has appealed.

      The Sharia issue was under the spotlight again last week when an
      Islamic court in Jigawa sentenced Sarimu Mohammed, 50, to death by
      stoning for raping a nine-year-old girl the first death sentence
      imposed on a man for rape or adultery under re-introduced Sharia law.
      Mohammed, who was caught by neighbours, also got 100 strokes of the
      cane and a fine.

      In Bauchi, Adama Yunusa, who is 19 and pregnant, was sentenced to 100
      lashes for having sex with her fiancé. And earlier this month
      clerics in Oyo, in the mostly Christian south, said they would apply
      Sharia for the first time to civil matters, such as divorce and land
      disputes, involving Muslims there.

      President Obasanjo's federal government, mindful of the danger of
      fanning religious tensions, is attempting to grapple with the Sharia
      problem through compromise. He said problems arising out of applying
      "ordinary" and Sharia law side by side could be dealt with
      constitutionally, by requiring states to impose equal sentences for
      equal offences nationwide.

      Last month, the Justice Minister declared certain sentencing aspects
      of the Sharia system unconstitutional and the federal government has
      asked states using it to modify their laws. Muslim leaders in these
      states indicated that they intend to ignore the decision.

      Sharia was not a problem when practised by genuine Islamic adherents,
      President Obasanjo insisted. "Only when it is political it becomes
      something to worry about." But everything will be political in the
      year leading to elections in April 2003 and in Nigeria politics tends
      to spark violence.

      I'm Nobody's Boy - Governor Makarfi (Kaduna State) - May 31, 2002

      Some Muslim groups are of the opinion that what you have in
      Kaduna is Sharia on paper; that the courts are not working. When will
      the courts start working?

      I think if not for the problem that the House went into, there was the
      procedure code because the other courts have their procedure codes,
      which is the criminal procedure codes. You need procedure codes for
      some aspects of the sharia courts and I was made to believe that the
      house was to pass the bill on that procedure codes, but then they had
      problem. I think this is the only aspect. But you see, it is not an
      issue which, will affect what you are seeing on ground.

      Sharia is personal; in some places, it can be communal, but generally,
      it is a personal issue. Even if you have a procedure code, it is not
      going to change the demography of Kaduna. Already, those issues of
      demography, what you can do somewhere and what you cannot do somewhere
      have already been put in place by the local government bye laws. That
      is not even an aspect waiting for the state government and that was
      the first thing we did, to delegate such powers to the local
      governments. They deal with issues that affect going about on
      day-to-day basis. That has nothing to do with what will come from the
      state government. In any case, other cases have gone to sharia courts
      and they have been sitting.

      Again, the funding of the judiciary which also got affected by the
      judgement of the Supreme Court has also brought some delays. It is now
      that we know that even their funds will come through us and we will
      give them their funding and we have asked them to meet and know the
      amount accruing to them and the distribution, so that they can do
      whatever they have to do in terms of their programmes. The point is
      that the governor must not have chosen any particular system as his
      baby. All the systems are the babies of the governor and we must give
      them fair and equal terms of operating. The various chief executives:
      the president of the customary courts, Grand Khadis for the sharia
      courts and chief judges of the common law courts. The governor does
      not determine the pattern of operation of any particular court.

      Elections 2003: Sharia Prevents Me From Declaring - Sokoto - May 30,

      Governor Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa of Sokoto State has said
      that in accordance with sharia which prohibits deliberate aspiration
      to leadership, he will not declare his intention to re-contest for
      governorship of the state.

      "I believe and respect the teaching and practice of the divine law.
      Therefore, I will not declare whether to contest for the seat or not,
      but allow people to judge my performance to determine if am eligible
      or not," he said.

      Bafarawa, who was reacting to questions during a radio phone-in
      programme of the state radio to commemorate his third year in office,
      further disclosed that Sharia did not require one to parade oneself to
      lead people, but to be voluntarily asked by the people to do so,
      "because of the trust they have in you, you can then be obliged to
      answer them," he added.

      He further stated that he personally presented the problems of
      dilapidated roads at Funtua, Gusau to Sokoto road to the federal
      government but nothing has been done. Similarly that of Sokoto,
      Tambuwal and Jega federal highways which are also in serious neglect.

      2003: People'll Determine My Fate, Says Bafarawa (Sokoto)

      Amnesty death by stoning appeal (Katsina State) May 30 2002

      Amnesty International is fighting against the execution of a
      Muslim woman in Nigeria who has been sentenced to death by stoning by
      a Sharia court.

      As Amina Lawal,30, faces the Upper Sharia Court of Funtua, Katsina
      State, on June 3, 2002 to present her appeal against her sentence,
      Amnesty International is urging the Nigerian government to ensure that
      she is not executed under any circumstance.

      Amina Lawal was charged with adultery and sentenced to stoning to
      death on March 22, 2002 by a Sharia Court in Katsina State in northern

      Ms Lawal allegedly confessed to having had a child while divorced.

      Pregnancy outside of marriage constitutes sufficient evidence for a
      woman to be convicted of adultery according to the new Sharia-based
      penal code for Muslims, introduced in Katsina State.

      The man named as the father of her baby girl reportedly denied having
      sex with her and his confession was enough for the charges against him
      to be discontinued.

      Amina Lawal did not have a lawyer during her first trial, when the
      judgement was passed. But she has now filed an appeal against her
      sentence with the help of a lawyer hired by a pool of Nigerian human
      rights and women`s rights organisations.

      The Amnesty International Merton group has an online petition, which
      is calling for an end to inhumane and cruel sentences in Nigeria, and
      for its government to ensure human rights for all its citizens. The
      petition which is on Amina website has secured 5,430 signatures from
      74 different countries : http://www.mertonai.org/amina

      In Death's Shadow June 2, 2002

      Bakori sharia court in Katsina state sentences Aminat Lawal to
      death for adultery, promising to stir up, once again, another round of
      controversy over this system of justice

      Aminat Lawal, 25, from Kurami village in Bakori local government area
      of Katsina State , is frightened at the sight of a new visitor in her
      house. Newswatch gathered that Lawal has been in this traumatic
      condition since March 22, when Bakori sharia court sentenced her to
      death by stoning for committing adultery and having a child outside
      wedlock. According to the ruling, Lawal would be executed in six
      months' time when she must have weaned her baby.

      Yahaya Mohammed, the man Lawal claimed made her pregnant was
      discharged on the ground that she failed to produce four witnesses to
      support her claim. But Lawal has appealed to the Ofa sharia appellate
      court in Funtua local government area of the state against the ruling.
      Lawal refused to talk to Newswatch on her death penalty because
      Saudatu Shehu Mahdi, secretary-general member, board of trustee on
      women's rights advancement and protection alternative, WRAPA, and her
      lawyer, had instructed her not to talk to the press.

      Kurami Lawal, 54, her father, has been heart-broken since Lawal's
      death sentence. When Newswatch asked, through a guide, what he would
      do if the appellate sharia court upholds the lower court's ruling,
      Kurami only lowered his head to fight back tears but remained silent.
      Aminat, Newswatch learnt, is his only daughter.

      Following the death sentence passed on Lawal, visitors flock Kurami.
      Some members of international organisations, women non-governmental
      organisations, NGOs, and journalists have been there. A register has
      been opened at the house of Lawal for those who want to join the
      campaign to save her. Those who have signed up include WRAPA, Social
      Justice for Women, Ewa Ewart, producer world current affairs,BBC;
      Johannes Dieterich, Druck-UND Verlash aus Frankfurt ; Josphine Kamara,
      Voice of America; Aminu Abubakar, Agence France-Presse and Mike Ugo,
      Pan African News agency.

      But a sharia faithful who spoke on conditions of anonymity, believes
      that the battle to save Lawal would be lost because Muslims had made
      up their minds to execute Lawal at the appointed time "in order not to
      allow Christians mess up sharia."

      But a top government official who is a Muslim and who does not want
      his name in print attributed Lawal's death sentence to fanaticism. He
      told Newswatch that "a devout Muslim who really wants to obey the
      teachings of Prophet Muhammed would not delight in killing people for
      committing a crime." He cited Prophet Muhammed's reluctance in
      executing a woman who reported herself to him for committing adultery.

      Joseph Maidugu of the mass communication department, University of
      Maiduguri , said the death penalty on Lawal was "shocking." He
      appealed to local and international groups to embark on another
      massive campain to save Lawal from the death sentence. Will Lawal be
      saved? No one knows yet.

      Amina Lawal - Another woman facing death by stoning

      Amnesty International reports on Africa 2001

      In Nigeria, deaths sentences and cruel degrading punishments
      were handed down under new legislation introduced in several northern
      states based on Islamic sharia law, the report said.

      Sharia court frees Nigerian mum pending stoning appeal - 3 June 2002

      An Islamic court today freed a young mother facing death by
      stoning to allow her to care for her child, raising hopes she would be
      cleared on appeal.

      Amina Lawal, 30, will be allowed to return home to her village and
      stay there until January 2004 whatever the result of her appeal, the
      court ruled, fixing its next hearing for July 8.

      If her adultery conviction is overturned it will mark the end of the
      second stoning case to spark controversy in northern Nigeria since 12
      states imposed Islamic law, the Sharia.

      If the Upper Sharia Court in Funtua, in Katsina State, upholds her
      conviction, in 18 months she will become the first Nigerian woman to
      be stoned to death since the code was reintroduced.

      Lawal's defence counsel interpreted the court's decision to allow her
      to leave a women's home and return to her village with her
      six-month-old daughter Wasila as a positive sign.

      "We are optimistic our appeal will be successful," he told AFP after
      the hearing. "I don't entertain any fears that my client will not be
      free at the end of the trial."

      In March, a second Nigerian woman who was convicted for adultery and
      sentenced to be stoned, 35-year-old Safiya Huseini, was freed on a
      technicality on appeal after an international outcry.

      Lawal first married at the age of 14. She was divorced for the second
      time in June 2000 and started a relationship with a man in December
      that year.

      The relationship lasted until last November, when she gave birth to

      Under Sharia law as it is interpreted in northern Nigeria, a woman who
      divorces and subsequently has a sexual relationship with another man
      is guilty of adultery, even if the man is unmarried.

      Lawal's boyfriend was not prosecuted because investigators could not
      find four male witnesses to say they saw him having sex with her, as
      required by Sharia's tough burden of proof.

      Adultery is punishable by stoning under Sharia.

      With state elections looming in August, it is feared Lawal's case
      could reignite a row over Sharia law which has triggered bloody
      sectarian riots in the past. [By Aminu Abubakar].

      50-yr-old rapist to die by stoning [Jigawa State]

      A Sharia court in Dutse has sentenced 50-year-old Sarimu
      Muhammad to death by stoning for raping a nine-year-old girl.
      Muhammad, who is married and has two children will in addition,
      receive 100 strokes of the cane and pay N10,000.00 fine as
      compensation to the victim.

      The convict who hails from Barranda village in Dutse Local Government
      Area, had been charged with raping minor, contrary to Section 129 of
      the Sharia Act. The offence carries a death penalty.

      At the sitting of the court on April 25, the convict had admitted to
      committing the offence even after the judge had cautioned him on the
      implication and nature of the penalty.

      In his judgement, Alhaji Isa Gantsa said he was satisfied with the
      voluntary confession of the accused and found him guilty as charged.
      He, however, gave Muhammad 30 days within which to appeal against the
      ruling if he so wished.

      The girl's screams attracted the attention of neighbours who
      caught the man in the act.

      Sharia States Should Modify Criminal Laws [Moslem discrimination]

      The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice
      (AGF), Mr. Kanu Agabi, SAN, has told all governors operating the
      Sharia legal system to modify all criminal laws of their states to
      exclude imposition of punishments that may infringe on the rights of
      Moslems to equality with other citizens under section 42(1)(a) of the

      The minister in a release yesterday, further stated that equality
      before the law means that Moslems should not be discriminated against,
      and this implies that they must not be subjected to a punishment more
      severe than would be imposed on other Nigerians for the same offence.

      The statement by Agabi seems to be a departure from the posture of the
      Federal Government in the past which bordered on aloofness. In
      response to calls for a categorical response of the government to
      Sharia first proclaimed by Zamfara State in 1999, for instance,
      President Olusegun Obasanjo had repeatedly said in the past that "the
      issue will whittle away."

      Most of the states in the North have already adopted Sharia.

      The Justice Minister's note of caution is coming barely five days to
      the expected judgement of the Sokoto State Sharia Appeal Court on the
      appeal by Safiya Husseini- Tungar Tudu, against death sentence by
      stoning for adultery. The case has attracted global spotlight as well
      as international solidarity for Safiya.

      Clamour for Sharia Law in Yorubaland Deepens [South West Nigeria]

      The inauguration of a non-governmental Sharia court by the Oyo
      State Muslim community in Ibadan on May 1, 2002 has clearly
      demonstrated Yoruba Muslims' support for Sharia and underscored their
      well-known resolve to also have the Islamic legal system adopted by
      state governments in the South West.

      Equally, the bold non-governmental Sharia initiative has finally torn
      apart the earlier preterous claims by the Yoruba socio-political
      organisation, Afenifere that the entire Yoruba people are against the
      adoption of full-scale Sharia in the country.

      For discerning observers, the establishment of the Independent Sharia
      Implementation Panel (ISIP) in Ibadan by Yoruba Muslims did not come
      as a surprise. Ever since the adoption of full-scale Sharia in Zamfara
      State about three years ago, conscious Yoruba Muslim youths under the
      auspices of the National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations
      (NACOMYO), have been mounting relentless pressure on their various
      state governments to adopt at least the civil aspect of Sharia law and
      create Sharia courts to cater for the interest of Yoruba Muslims who
      form the majority population in Oyo, Ogun, Osun and Lagos States, and
      account for at least thirty per cent of the population in Ekiti and
      Ondo States.

      NACOMYO national president and member of the Oyo State branch of the
      Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, Alhaji Ishaq Kunle Sani,
      confirmed to Weekly Trust that the Oyo State Muslim community had
      resorted to the establishment of a non-governmental Sharia court after
      spirited attempts to persuade the state government to recognise the
      right of Muslims by promulgating a Sharia bill.

      He lamented that even the private Sharia bill which had been submitted
      by the Muslim community to the Oyo State House of Assembly over two
      years ago, was neither mentioned on the floor of the House nor passed
      into law despite the fact that the Speaker, Alhaji Ashimiyu Alarape,
      and a majority of members are Muslims.

      Weekly Trust gathered that the parliamentarians could not summon the
      courage to deliberate on and pass the bill into law because of the
      alleged warning issued by Afenifere in the heat of the Sharia crisis
      that no governor or state house of assembly in Yorubaland should
      entertain any request for the implementation of the Islamic law in the
      South West.

      Alhaji Sani corroborated the allegation when he declared that the
      parliamentarians had chickened out "in order to please their Afenifere
      lords," adding that Afenifere has been hiding under the canopy of
      purported Yoruba irredentism to suppress Islam and Muslims in the
      South West.

      Professor Hussain Abdukareem of the Lagos State University Teaching
      Hospital (LASUTH) who was the chairman at the formal inauguration of
      the ISIP also shares this view. In his speech at the occasion, he
      lambasted Afenifere saying:

      "Since it was established 50 years ago, Afenifere has taken little or
      no interest in the affairs of million of Muslims of the South West.
      Records at our disposal show clearly that Afenifere has used all the
      organs at its disposal to rubbish Muslims' existence in the South West
      and play down on their interest on education and Sharia."

      Since the panel has no legal teeth to enforce its rulings yet,
      compliance with its judgements is expected to be voluntary just like
      the filing of cases and appearance before it.

      Nevertheless, indications are that many Muslims will not only
      patronise the Sharia panel but also abide by its judgements. Even as
      it is yet to begin sitting, no fewer than 60 cases have been filed
      before it so far. As such, fears are being expressed that the
      enthusiastic response of Muslims to the panel might lead to congestion
      at the Oja-oba venue before other branches are established.

      Undoubtedly, huge amount of money would be required to sustain the
      operations of the Sharia court. Alhaji Sani explained that some
      Muslims in the state, urging more Muslims to take a cue from them, are
      currently financing the panel through voluntary donations.

      According to the Legal Adviser of the SCSN, Barrister Abdur-Raheem
      Adebayo Shittu, all the judges on the panel currently are volunteers
      while only the court clerk and registrar are being paid salaries.

      Irrespective of its teething problems, the non-governmental Sharia
      court initiative is expected to spread to other Yoruba states soon.
      According to Sani, independent Sharia panels would also be established
      in Osun and Lagos states within the next three months.

      The ISIP which was established by the Oyo State branch of the Supreme
      Council for Sharia has its jurisdiction limited to Islamic personal
      laws bothering on marriage, divorce, inheritance, guardianship of
      children born under Islamic marriage, Zakkat administration, debt
      repayment, and disputes among Muslims, among others.

      According to Sani, the Sharia panel which has its headquarters at the
      Oja-Oba central mosque in the heart of Ibadan, would soon have
      branches established in certain mosques across the state to facilitate
      access to Sharia justice by willing Muslims.

      The panel, which is expected to begin sitting next week, consists of
      seven judges headed by Alhaji Abdulwahab Adebayo Abdullahi, the
      principal of the Institute of Islamic Studies, Elekuro, in Ibadan.

      As the non-governmental Sharia court project spreads across the whole
      of Yorubaland, the calculations of the Yoruba Muslims are that state
      governments in the region would be forced to take over the courts and
      enact Sharia laws as was the case in Uganda where the government was
      forced to enact Sharia law for its Muslim community after seven years
      of operating independent Sharia courts.

      Again, the Yoruba Muslims are fervently waiting to play the Sharia
      card in the 2003 elections to enhance the quick realisation of
      government adoption of the Islamic legal system for Muslims in the
      region. Both Sani and Shittu confirmed that official implementation of
      Sharia would be made a pre-condition for Muslim votes in Yorubaland in
      all elections henceforth.

      Muslim analysts in Yoruba consider the non-availability of government
      Sharia courts in the whole of the South West as a grave injustice to
      the Muslim population there. Their contention is that since state
      governments in the area could create the quasi-Christian common law
      courts and the pre-pagan customary courts, they have no reason not to
      create Sharia courts for the Muslims, more so when the three legal
      systems are recognised by the nation's constitution.

      Owing to this lacuna, Yoruba Muslims have had to refer purely Islamic
      cases involving them to common law customary courts, which are
      obviously not positioned to interpret Islamic laws directly. For
      instance, the on-going case between an Obafemi Awolowo University
      undergraduate, Miss Azeezah Amusa and her parents over the use of
      Islamic hijab at an Ile-Ife high court would have been better handled
      by a Sharia court were it in existence.

      Again, many Yoruba Muslim couples had been forced to contract their
      marriages under the common or customary laws either of which negates
      Islamic principles because marriage certificates issued by mosques or
      Islamic societies for Muslim weddings are not recognised by law in the
      South West. In fact, polygamy, which is permissible in Islam, is
      considered a criminal offence, which attracts up to five years
      imprisonment under the common law.

      Whereas the rules of divorce in Islam are quite different from those
      under the customary or common law, Yoruba Muslims wishing to divorce
      their spouses have had no choice but to resort to these un-Islamic
      courts which go counter to Islamic tenets.

      In the area of inheritance, beneficiaries of the estate of many
      Muslims who died interstate have always been subjected mostly to the
      Yoruba traditional Idi-Igi (mother's line) or Ori - Ogori (equal
      measures) method of estate sharing contrary to the Islamic method
      recommended in Qur'an chapter 4 verses 11, 12, and 176.

      The official adoption of Sharia in Yorubaland will undoubtedly reverse
      some of these injustices and confer socio-economic benefits on the
      Muslims and non-Muslims alike in the region.

      For the Yoruba Muslims, the creation of Sharia courts (whether
      official or not) in the South West would be tantamount to the recovery
      of their lost treasure. For the Islamic legal system had been
      practiced in many Yoruba towns before the advent of colonialism in the

      According to history, before the colonialists eradicated Sharia in
      Yorubaland, there were Sharia courts in Iwo in 1906 during the reign
      of Oba Mohammed Lamuye, in Ede in 1913 during the reign of Oba Abeeb
      Lagunju, and in Ikirun during the reign of Oba Aliyu Oyewole in 1912.
      Epe and Ibadan were also noted for establishing Sharia courts in the
      pre-colonial period.

      Indeed, the clamour for the official reintroduction of Sharia law in
      Yorubaland is not a new phenomenon. The first move in that direction
      was said to have been made in 1923 when the Lagos Muslim community
      petitioned the colonial administrations for the creation of Sharia
      courts following the non-consideration of Islamic divorce rules by a
      colonial court which heard a divorce case between one Hawawu Thomas
      and her husband.

      The Ijebu-ode and Oyo Muslim communities were also said to have
      demanded the reintroduction of Sharia from the colonial masters in
      1940 and 1944 respectively.

      Lately in a petition signed by 29 Imams and Muslim leaders in Oyo
      state, the Muslim community there had requested the former military
      governor of the state to establish Sharia courts in the state.

      Thus, with the creation of a non-governmental Sharia court in Ibadan
      to prove their unshakable resolve to have the Islamic law adopted
      officially, it is doubtful if this demand of Yoruba Muslims can be
      ignored for too long.

      Sharia law 'reaches' Nigeria's south

      In defiance of the authorities in Oyo State, the Supreme
      Council of Sharia says it has carried out a ceremony in Ibadan's
      central mosque to inaugurate a panel to rule on civil matters in the

      The leaders say the panel will be empowered to decide on matters such
      as marriage, divorce and land disputes.

      The BBC's Kabiru Yayo in Ibadan says the secretary general of
      Nigeria's Supreme Council for Sharia, Alhaj Nachu Baba Ahmed, was
      among Muslim leaders from northern Nigeria who attended the Ibadan

      Islamic code

      He says there have been moves to introduce a less radical form of the
      Islamic code in the southern state of Oyo in the past.

      But the state authorities have so far refused to allow their
      applications there.

      A more radical version of the Islamic code - covering crimes - has
      been introduced in a number of states in the mainly Muslim north of
      Nigeria over the past two years, provoking much controversy and, in
      some cases, violent protests.

      The law insists on stoning for adultery, amputation for theft and
      flogging for the lesser Islamic crimes of alcohol consumption and sex
      before marriage.

      BAHREIN (2)

      Bahrain likely to set up tourism body 03-06-2002

      Bahrain attracts thousands of tourists every week particularly
      from neighbouring GCC countries [ Bahrain - Dubai - Kuwait - Oman -
      Qatar - Saudi Arabia]. The island kingdom has 83 hotels including at
      least seven 5-star international names according to Ali Said, Director
      of Monitoring Department at the Tourism Directorate.

      However, with the growing emphasis on 'family tourism', some of the
      island's hotels have been warned by Al Hamer last month to stop
      violating laws and regulations set by the Ministry, related in
      particular to entertainment shows and hiring illegal foreign dancers.

      "These violations do not conform to the Islamic Sharia, or the
      traditions and values of the country's society, and are affecting the
      reputation of Bahrain and its people," the minister said.

      "We seek to develop a clean kind of tourism in this country. We have
      been urging hotels and other tourist institutions to come up with
      ideas to enhance Bahrain's position as a hospitable place in which
      tourists and visitors, singles and families, would have a good time,"
      Tourism Directorate's Said told Gulf News recently.

      Bahrain becomes base of new International Islamic Financial Market

      He pointed out that the major task of the new body was to
      create awareness about Sharia-complaint products and issue Islamic
      instruments that meet global liquidity requirements of Islamic banks
      and financial institutions.

      "The volume of investments in the Sharia-compliant products is between
      $1.3 trillion and $2 trillion and the market has a huge growth
      potential," Majeed said, adding that at present there was a lack of
      instruments and investment alternatives, a basic ingredient to broaden
      investment base.

      Islamically-designed products are not different from conventional
      products, he said. "We are looking forward that conventional
      institutions might invest in such products as well."

      The IIFM will have an Interna-tional Sharia Committee soon comprising
      experts from five Islamic countries: Bahrain, Paki-stan, Saudi Arabia,
      Sudan and Malaysia, to discuss, at a very high level, about the
      products coming into the market.

      The small but growing Islamic finance industry constitutes
      around 200 institutions managing $170 billion. Last year, Bahrain
      began offering government Islamic bills worth $25 million to help
      create investment opportunities. It has also offered five-year Islamic
      leasing bonds worth $100 million.

      There are around 20 Islamic banks and finance houses in the kingdom
      alongside 22 commercial banks and 48 off-shore banking units with
      combined assets of more than $100 billion.

      DUBAI (5)

      Vegetable soups bear 'halal' stamp

      Certain vegetable soups and noodles mistakenly and
      misleadingly carry the 'Halal' stamp even when they do not contain
      meat, poultry or derivatives thereof.

      Interestingly, the same company's non-vegetarian flavours bear the
      words 'halal slaughtered' in Arabic, as compared with the one word
      printed on the vegetarian products.

      Mohammed Omar, Deputy Head of Health Department at Sharjah
      Municipality, said yesterday only food prepared with meat or poultry
      products should carry the 'halal' stamp, to certify the animal was
      slaughtered according to Islamic Sharia.

      Six jailed for dealing in drugs, stealing

      The Sharia Court sentenced six men to different jail terms and
      fines in five different cases on charges of stealing and dealing in

      Two jailed for impersonation
      Two men were handed prison terms by the Ras Al Khaimah Sharia Court
      yesterday on charges of impersonating police officers and extortion.

      A senior court official said that the two Pakistanis, identified only
      as A.Q.M. and S.M.M., were sentenced to two months and 30 lashes and
      one month and 30 lashes respectively, to be followed by deportation.

      Wife, three children told to pay Dh330,000 compensation

      The Ras Al Khaimah Civil Court ordered four members of a
      family, on Wednesday, to pay Dh330,000 in compensation to their
      business partners, after the Sharia Court found the head of the family

      The court gave these orders to the wife and three children of a
      Lebanese who was found involved in alleged embezzlement and breaching
      the trust of his partners.

      Death penalty for rapist commuted

      The death sentence passed on a man was yesterday reduced by
      the Sharia Appeal Court to 15 years in prison, to be lashed 99 times,
      and deported after serving his term.

      A senior court official said the verdict against the Indian, S.J.M.,
      was final for he had been shown mercy.

      He had committed a heinous crime when he raped a 12-year-old national
      boy. S.J.M. was sentenced to death on April 14. The official said the
      30-year-old man asked the boy to come to his room and help him find a
      telephone number because he did not know Arabic.

      SAUDI ARABIA (5)

      Saudi Arabia sentences Khobar bombing suspects
      Number of defendants, penalties not disclosed - June 2, 2002

      Saudi Arabia has sentenced some of the people it arrested for
      the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 U.S. servicemen and
      injured hundreds, the deputy interior minister was quoted as saying

      Prince Ahmed, however, did not say how many people were sentenced or
      what the sentences were. The verdicts "must be announced at the right
      time," the brother of King Fahd said in an interview with newspaper

      Ahmed said the suspects in the bombing, except for two or three still
      at large, had been sentenced under Islamic law.

      "The sentences will go to a higher court, then to the supreme justice
      council and then to the king for approval," Prince Ahmed was quoted as
      saying. Under Islamic sharia law, all sentences must go through
      several stages of ratification.

      The kingdom, which follows a strict interpretation of Islamic law,
      imposes the death penalty for murder, rape, armed robbery and drug

      Khobar bomb suspects sentenced - report - 03.06.2002

      Saudi Arabia has tried, convicted and sentenced some suspects
      in the 1996 Khobar bombing that killed 19 U.S. servicemen, but the
      main suspects are still at large, a Saudi prince says.

      "It is known that we arrested some parties, except for two or three
      fugitives who are the main suspects. We have not found them," the
      deputy interior minister, Prince Ahmad bin Abdul-Aziz, told the Saudi
      newspaper Al-Jazirah.

      "The rest have been sentenced under (Islamic) Sharia law, and the
      sentences will be announced at a suitable time," he said.

      Saudi: Killers of 19 GIs sentenced - NYPost - 2-6-2002

      Saudi Arabia sentences Khobar bombing suspects
      Number of defendants, penalties not disclosed

      Saudi Arabia Sentences People for Attack on U.S. Servicemen
      Foxnews - 01 june 2002

      Report: Saudis Give Bombing Sentence - June 01, 2002

      Prince Says Saudis Sentenced Khobar Bomb Suspects - Jun. 01, 2002


      U.N. watchdog Saudi Arabia's flogging, amputation breaches accords

      Saudi Arabia is breaking an international accord banning
      torture by allowing punishments like flogging and amputation, even
      though it ratified the treaty five years ago, a United Nations
      watchdog said Friday.

      The U.N. Committee against Torture said that such punishments "are not
      in conformity with the convention'' and that Saudi Arabia should
      "re-examine'' them.

      The 10-member committee checks on compliance with the 1984 U.N.
      Convention against Torture. Like the 129 other nations that have
      signed the agreement, Saudi Arabia must submit reports to show it is
      applying the rules. It was the first time Saudi Arabia had reported
      since it ratified the convention in 1997.

      The conservative Muslim kingdom follows a strict interpretation of
      Islamic law, or sharia. Courts routinely order lashings and hand
      amputations for theft and minor crimes, and public executions for
      murder, rape and drug trafficking.

      The U.N. convention defines torture as "any act by which severe pain
      or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted''
      to obtain a confession, to punish an act which the victim ``has
      committed or is suspected of having committed,'' or to intimidate the

      The convention, however, says also that torture "does not include pain
      or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful

      Saudi officials told the committee that corporal punishment was an
      integral part of sharia law and so could not fall within the
      definition set out in the convention.

      Abdulwahab Abdulsalam Attar, the kingdom's ambassador to U.N. offices
      in Geneva, said that Islamic law was sovereign, and Saudi Arabia
      "could not accept any effort to render a sharia-based rule
      inoperative, nor could it accept any enactment that conflicted with a
      provision of sharia.''

      Saudi law banned what the country considered to be torture --
      mistreating suspects to extract confessions, for example -- the
      delegation said.

      Committee chairman Peter Burns told reporters Friday that he did not
      want to take a confrontational approach,'' but that there had been a
      "conflict of interpretation'' over Saudi Arabia's obligations and he
      had ``no doubt'' flogging and amputation constituted torture.

      Other Islamic states which have signed the convention did not apply
      Islamic law in the same strict way, he said.

      The committee also expressed concern that some suspects in Saudi
      Arabia were held incommunicado during investigations and denied access
      to lawyers and doctors. It said there were too few ways for victims to
      complain about abuses.

      Examining a report from Russia, the committee welcomed legal reforms
      which imposed bans on evidence obtained without a defense lawyer being
      present, and other changes meant to protect civilians from abuse by
      Russian forces in breakaway Chechnya.

      But the committee said it remained concerned about "numerous and
      consistent allegations'' that torture was still widely used to extract
      confessions. There was a "persistent pattern of impunity for torture
      ... benefitting both civil and military officials,'' particularly in

      The committee called on Russia to give detainees proper access to
      lawyers and doctors, establish an independent body to inspect prisons,
      and apply properly the law on confession evidence. Russian authorities
      also should allow civilian investigators to examine allegations of
      abuse by the army in Chechnya, it said.

      Criticism by the U.N. body brings no penalties but draws international
      attention to a country's record on torture.


      Editor in chief of outspoken Saudi paper demoted - 2002-05-07

      The chief editor of an outspoken Saudi daily has been demoted
      after the paper over the past few weeks reported on corruption and
      criticized the religious police, officials said Tuesday.

      The officials said the decision to demote al-Ghamdi was made after Al
      Watan spearheaded a campaign to uncover corruption in several
      government and government-controlled bodies and criticized the
      powerful religious police.

      In March, Al Watan and other Saudi newspapers launched an
      unprecedented attack on members of the religious police -- known as
      the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of
      Vice, or muttawa -- accusing them of blocking rescue attempts by male
      firefighters and paramedics at a girls' school in Mecca, western Saudi
      Arabia, which caught fire. Fifteen girls were killed and 50 others

      Newspapers said that the firefighters were not allowed in because some
      of the girls were not wearing the long dresses and head coverings
      required in public under Islamic sharia law. But a government report
      on the investigation into the fire described as ``untrue'' reports
      that said the muttawa blocked rescue attempts.

      Saudi Rules Will Protect Defendants - Source: Record - Bergen County

      New regulations designed to open up the Saudi legal system and
      protect the rights of defendants and suspects in criminal cases went
      into effect Wednesday.

      Lawyers in the secretive kingdom hailed the move as a breakthrough in
      improving transparency in the Saudi justice system, which is based on
      Sharia, or Islamic law, and a frequent target of criticism from
      international human rights groups.

      Human rights groups have criticized the Gulf kingdom for
      arbitrary arrests, detentions, forced confessions, the lack of
      defendants rights, and public executions.

      First time defendants in criminal cases will know their rights and be
      allowed legal representation "all the way from their custody to their
      trial," al-Ghamdi said.

      Previously lawyers were allowed to represent clients only in civil or
      financial disputes.

      The new regulations include detailed instructions for
      authorities in all stages of arrest, interrogation, trial, and
      execution of verdicts.

      They also ban any physical or mental harm or torture to extract

      IRAN (3)

      Iran's simmering discontent - World Policy Journal - 2002-04-01

      Injudicious Repression
      The hottest flashpoint in Iran today is the courts. Nowhere is
      the gulf between the mullahs and Iran's secular elite starker than in
      the judiciary, which, like the Council of Guardians, is answerable
      only to Khameini. Law students, lawyers, and subordinate judges are
      overwhelmingly progressive in their political orientation and study
      only the French and Belgian law that forms the basis of Iran's legal
      system. The presiding judge, on the other hand, is always a cleric
      with expertise in the Shia version of Islamic law, or Sharia, with
      which the legal system has been spri\nkled since the Revolution. The
      rulings of this judicial platypus would be comical, if they did not
      have such an impact on peoples' lives.

      The following judgments, rendered recently in Iran's criminal courts,
      illustrate the mullahs' perspective and competence. A boy was
      sentenced to three months in prison for allegedly making flirtatious
      faces at a girl while she was walking along the street with her
      father. What was remarkable about the case is that he was across the
      street when he committed the offense, for which the court coined a
      special term that translates as "teleflirting." Various sections of
      Iran's statute books are color-coded, with the criminal statues
      colored red. In one recent judgment, the clerical magistrate found a
      defendant guilty based not on any particular law, but on the "red
      pages." In another case, a convicted man was sentenced to imprisonment
      "until one week before the reappearance of the Mahdi," in other words,
      "till Kingdom comes."

      This past winter, the courts' anti-reform campaign has become even
      more overtly hostile to the reformists. Early last December, an
      appeals court imposed a sevenmonth prison sentence on Mohammad Dadfar,
      a prominent reformist member of parliament who had made a speech
      criticizing the courts. That same month, a special court dealing with
      press offences concluded its prosecution of several leaders of Iran's
      most prominent left-wing party, the Islamic Revolution Mujahedin
      Organization (IMRO). Its secretary general, the deputy minister for
      labor, was sentenced to 26 months in prison, while the party's weekly
      newspaper, Asr-e Ma, joined the list of 60- odd publications that have
      been banned since the reformists won control of the Majlis in general
      elections in the spring of 2000. Another senior IMRO official and
      Khatami confidant, Behzad Nabavi, is under investigation for alleged
      misuse of funds as head of Petro Pars, a quasi-state oil company.
      Other Khatami allies, including his cabinet secretary, who is the
      former governor of Kurdestan, the head of the Petroleum Ministry, and
      the governor of the Central Bank have also been targeted.

      The judiciary ratcheted up the pressure still further just after
      Christmas when the courts took the unprecedented step of imprisoning a
      member of parliament, Hossein Loqmanian. (Dadfar has been sentenced
      but not yet actually imprisoned.) Loqmanian, a pro-reform member of
      Parliament, was sentenced to ten months in prison for libeling and
      slandering the judiciary. In a speech before Parliament last year,
      Loqmanian expressed the commonly held belief among MPs that the courts
      are "decapitating freedom and attempting to threaten and intimidate
      Parliament." He also denounced the imprisonment of Ezatollah Sahibi,
      an esteemed veteran activist who has languished behind bars for months
      without trial, charged with a host of counterrevolutionary offenses. A
      third MP, Fatemah Haqiqatjou, also faces charges of defaming the
      courts. Tehran's top judge, Abbas Ali Alizadeh, has said Parliament
      has no right to interfere in judicial affairs. "Why do you raise
      questions about legal proceedings for the sake of a bunch of so-called
      reformers and newspapers?" he asked, adding that the media had a duty
      not to publish articles "that might weaken or insult the judiciary.""
      Loqmanian's incarceration caused an uproar in Parliament. One MP
      labeled it "a mini-coup," and some called for a national referendum on
      the separation of powers, the most direct challenge to date by elected
      officials to the clerics' political dominion. Two weeks after
      Loqmanian went to Tehran's Evin prison, Khameini belatedly defused the
      confrontation by granting him a pardon.

      Legal constraints to political reform in Iran - Journal of Third World
      Studies - Publication date: 2002-04-01

      Punishment And Legal Remedies
      As was mentioned earlier, the shari'a, or Islamic law, is
      considered the supreme law over everybody and that the government
      "cannot change the law to suit the ever changing socio-economic
      climate."7 This is especially true in the area of criminal law where
      punishment for certain categories of crime is nonnegotiable. Also, the
      supremacy and permanency of all Islamic and judicial organs connotes
      an important principle of the Islamic government: legislative and
      judicial organs of the state should not originate any laws. Their
      purpose is simply to codify and apply the shari'a. This implies that
      in cases of conflict between societal changes and the requirements of
      Islamic law, the law is not to be interpreted in such a way as to meet
      such societal changes. Rather, it is the society that needs to adapt
      itself to the requirements of the sharia.8 As Joseph Schacht has
      noted, the rules of the shari'a become valid "by virtue of their
      existence and not [necessarily] because of their rationality."9
      Notwithstanding the above, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, during his
      tenure as the faqih, had recognized the necessity of flexibility in
      the shari'a according to the needs of the society and changing
      circumstances of the Islamic state in Iran. Khomeini even ruled that
      if the interests (mas/ahat) of the state required it, it would be
      justified to disregard the shari'a.10

      The concept of criminal law in Iran differs from the notion of common
      law or other types of Western legal systems not just because it is
      religiously derived but because in many instances the subject of the
      law is the victim's family. For example, murder is viewed not as an
      offense against society, as is the case in Western societies, but as a
      crime against the victim's family. The punishment for murder,
      therefore, is designed to not only deter crime but to "compensate" the
      family of the victim. Hence, retribution and "blood money" have been
      an int<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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